PM speech at Asian Parliament Association

December 10, 2013

Honourable Speakers and Deputy Speakers,
Distinguished delegates,
Representatives of the Asian Parliaments,
Nayyar Hussain Bukhari, Chairman Senate
Mushahid Hussain Syed
Ladies and Gentlemen,

          First of all, I would like to extend a very warm welcome to all distinguished delegates who have come from different parts of Asia to be a part of this conference of Asian Parliaments. It is truly a pleasure to welcome you in Islamabad. Pakistan is proud to host the Sixth Plenary of the Asian Parliamentary Assembly, one of the most important parliamentary events in the world. Indeed, the Assembly was born in this city in 2004 when the Association of Asian Parliaments for Peace decided to transform itself into the Asian Parliamentary Assembly. The Assembly is therefore returning to its birthplace. I would also like to extent my heartiest congratulations to the Chairman of the Senate on his election as President of the Asian Parliamentary Assembly.
It is a particular pleasure that nearly three hundred delegates from thirty countries are representing the people of Asia, their hopes, aspirations, and dynamism in this hall today.
I am happy to note the commonalities in APA and Pakistan’s ideals concerning strengthening democracy, peace, development, regional cooperation, security and well-being of the people across the Asian continent.
The theme for this Assembly is particularly relevant – Asian Century: Cooperation in Economy, Energy and the Environment. While this theme has a bearing on all the countries represented here, it has a particular resonance for Pakistan.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Pakistan underwent a historic political transition earlier this year. One popularly elected government succeeded another popularly elected government in free, fair and transparent elections.
The Pakistan Parliament has emerged ever stronger on account of this transition. We rejoice that this Parliament is today playing host to representatives of its sister parliaments from across Asia.
With this Parliament giving voice to the aspirations of the people of Pakistan, we are now working to address the challenges confronting the country. Thanks to this Parliament, we were able to forge a national consensus on how best to address the threat of terrorism. Similarly, we are striving to rejuvenate the economy. Achieving this goal is essentially tied to the urgent need to address the crippling energy crisis, which hangs like a dead weight from our development plans. We are, however, striving on war-footing to combat the energy deficiency, attract foreign investment, mobilize domestic resource and jump-start economic growth.
In the contemporary times of globalization, economic growth is a factor of regional cooperation and integration. I am very confident that the regional parliamentary forums such as APA can play the role of a lynchpin to generate joint strategies to effectively deal with the critical issues of energy, growth and environment, which are common to the most of the Asia.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Asian Parliamentary Assembly offers an excellent opportunity for legislatures across Asia to connect with each other and learn from each other’s experiences. There is of course the important dimension of sharing notes on issues specific to the working of legislatures – agenda setting, budget making, drafting and even harmonizing legislation, committee structures and mandates, etc. However, an equally important aspect of this interaction is bringing the peoples of the member countries closer.
Parliamentary meetings and exchanges are among the best avenues available to promote trust and understanding among countries and peoples. Parliamentarians have a finger on the pulse of their constituents. They know the priorities of their voters. And I can assure you as an elected representative, that the people of Pakistan seek nothing more than peace, both within Pakistan and with all of Pakistan’s neighbours. They want safety, security and stability. They seek an environment that rewards hard work and protects the fruits of their labour. They want opportunities to advance and to provide a secure and prosperous future for their children.
I am certain that there is not one amongst the eminent legislators sitting here today whose constituents do not yearn for these same things.
We are working very hard to give to our people what they want and we want to do that as quickly as we can.
This brings me to the theme of this Assembly. Long the subject of colonialism and outright oppression, mired in underdevelopment for decades, our Asia is now stirring. The future foretold by many visionaries, including our own national poet, Allama Mohammad Iqbal, is here. Asia is moving to reclaim its rightful place in the world.
According to the Asian Development Bank, Asia’s per capita income could rise six-fold in purchasing power parity terms to reach European levels by 2050. By the same year, Asia could double its share of the global GDP. If all goes well, and Asia manages its growth properly and with equity, there will be no poor Asian countries left by 2050.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Pakistan is most happily situated in the most dynamic continent of the world. It is next door to two of the biggest and fastest growing economies in the world – China and India. This also means that Pakistan is also next door to two of the world’s biggest markets.
Pakistan is the geographical knot tying three of the most important regions of the world together – South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East.Pakistan brings more than three billion people together.
We are working on realizing the gains of this connectivity. We are developing an ambitious North-South Economic Corridor from China down to the Arabian Sea, linking the vast spaces and untapped wealth and resources of Central Asia and China’s heartland to the international economic mainstream. This corridor will be a conduit for energy and goods. Similarly, we are working to bring in energy from Central Asia to Pakistan and onwards to India through the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline. Central Asia South Asia (CASA) 1000 is another energy project underway.
The economic benefits of these projects are evident. However, these projects will also give countries in the region a stake in each other’s prosperity and stability. 
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I firmly believe in the Asian century. I also believe that this will happen earlier and last longer, if South Asia also makes its proper contribution to this development. Unfortunately, countries of the region are still not connected. The two largest countries have yet to develop the required level of trust. They have yet to shed the burden of the past and learn to look to the future.
We on the Pakistani side have tried to turn a new page with all our neighbours. We are prepared to look at the larger picture and have reached out to Afghanistan and also India. While Pakistan may succeed on its own and through its own endeavors, the success will be quicker, greater, and more sustainable if it is underwritten by the entire region moving together. In an Asian century, we may well be witnessing an opportunity for South Asia to join the other Asian engines such as China and the ASEAN.
A final word of thanks to all our distinguished guests, who accepted our invitation to participate in this Asian Parliamentary Assembly since this is an expression of confidence in Pakistan and its future as democracy and our role as key player in resolving issues pertaining to Asia’s future.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would also like to appreciate the efforts of organizers of this Conference, the Senate of Pakistan, for managing the event in such a proficient manner.
Addressing the esteemed audience would be a good opportunity not just to share my vision about the Asian century, but also to meet and mingle with this distinguished gathering of ladies and gentlemen.
Thank you again for coming to our country, and I hope to see you again in Pakistan in not too distant future, Insha Allah.

Pakistan Zindabad.